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Raewyn here, I am still in Japan, now back down in Kyoto. By now the kids will have just taken off. It was sad to say goodbye to them this afternoon. They have been a pleasure to travel with. There were tears when we said goodbye and the biggest culprit was Mrs Beckham. Thank you for letting us spend this time with your children, they have made our trip a fantastic experience. Be warned, you may need to bring extra cars to pick up all the shopping-the Japanese economy has had a boom in the last two weeks. Raewyn

Day 16 -Hi everyone, - 5pm, Tokyo - 9pm NZ. Looking outside the window and Air NZ is parked so everything should be good for an ontime lift off. Check the Air NZ website in the morning for an exact arrival time. It is showing 9 15am arrival in Auckland at the moment which should have us coming through from 10am onwards. It is a full plane.

A very quiet last day - we went to a temple close to our hotel and a few last purchases were completed, Sian with a yukata and Izzy with an obi (bow for a yukata) for example. A couple of the boys bought more swords and I am sure these will be a discussion point at home. Wandered slowly to our last rain station, said goodbye to Mrs Beckham, Miss Austin and Miss Kimi who are staying on in Japan for another week. Quite a warm day. Everyone is certainly looking forward to tomorrow morning!

Raewyn will be in touch with a suggested date for our last meeting and this will be a sharing of some trip highlights, a slideshow and some certificates, eg. I survived the Japan trip of 2010.

Connors birthday today and we did a lovely happy birthday and a little cake for breakfast. He beamed with a great smile. Ishaan is wearing his Disney purchase home on his head so that will make Mum and Dad smile for sure. No more secrets. Bye everyone. Gary

Day 16 - Last day: A slow day with the aim being to get to the airport in time for check in and some rest before the flight. We stayed in Asakusa and went to the Senoji temple and Nakamise St. Maybe 1 shop expedition too many for most but for Sian it was a success story with fans and a yukata sorted. Most kids were down to coins only and were hanging out for their Y3000 emergency money which in the end I doled out at the airport. Air NZ check in a small worry with 3 bags too many + a guitar. However, all sorted in the end and after hugs and farewells to Yasu, through we went. Simon disappeared but was carrying liquid in his back pack and had to go back to check in to send it in the hold.

The flight was called and off we went. Many students stayed up as late as they could with movie after movie. The new arrival system at Auckland saw us move through quite quickly and then it was great to see family members again and cheers and hugs ruled at the Int airport for a few minutes. Handover completed and I was off to the Sth Island for the rest of the week. Phew!

Thanks everyone, all students, you were great travelers and ambassadors for Pukekohe and school. Thanks Julie, Simon and Dave. Your assistance throughout the trip was invaluable and greatly appreciated. Diane and Raewyn are still in Japan so I will thank them when we catch up at school on Monday. Regards to all and I have started the planning for 2012! Gary

Nakamise St on a Sunday morning

Days 14 & 15 - Hi everyone. Wow, you have been neglected a little the last few days! Apologies, 'tis simply the exhausting nature of life up here and finding time to get back to the laptop and compose a message home. Even tonight, it has just clicked past midnight and things have now slowed and I am starting to type. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself!

It is with a tinge of sadness tonight that this message is being put together as this is the last evening in Japan. Back
to the start of day 13 however ..... Disneyland. I will put up a few photos with this message version on the wikipage http://pukehara.wikispaces.com/Pukekohe+to+Hara+2010

We set off as early as we could and reached
DL about an hour after it opened - around 10am. By midday we had ticked off the three big rides and the rest of the day was spent doing some of these again and visiting some of the other delights on offer. It was a great day weather wise but heaps of walking and a few boys suffered from that dreaded chaffing complaint. All kids were wanting to keep charging from one thing to another but I called a rest at 5 30pm and did the normal DL Japan thing which was to find a position for the electric light parade scheduled for 7 30pm. A number of the kids were not impressed with my logic and experience but rebellion was short lived and the 2 hrs of sitting around and waiting disappeared pretty quickly and all agreed that the parade was a highlight of the day and well worth waiting for and ta Mr Sweeney for making sure we had ring side seats! We followed that with the DL fireworks display and as Friday was a 10pm close at DL, we raced to one of the big three and as it opened again, managed to get in one more ride.

Enough was enough as 13 hrs on foot was starting to really show for all concerned with very tired and sore kids and adults. We got back to the hotel and all were in bed by midnight. I announced a sleep
in to 8am and brekkie at 9am on Saturday which was gratefully accepted.

Saturday was always going to be a lazy Tokyo day with all going well, 4 or 5 shopping spots visited and we
manged this. Everyone is tired and your darlings will certainly sleep well Monday and Tuesday. I know some of you have other plans for the week ahead and you may notice a little quietness at times and certainly some stories about life in Japan. As far as trips go, this one has gone very well and is up there in comparison with previous PIS trips to Japan. Some of the group have learned new things about their own resilience, some have been tested a little, some have developed new friends and I am sure all will point to some really important things that have happened for them. I have overheard comments about coming back to Japan one day and that is always an affirming thing for me.

We zoomed around Tokyo today and as legs warmed up, we certainly covered some distance. We probably did the equivalent of Pukekohe to Hamilton and back and all of this,
underground ! We went up a Tokyo Government building for a look out over the city scene. We visited a flea market near there (just bumped in to this one), went to Shinjuku and Harajuku (fashion street for young females), went to Ueno and Amoyoko market (great life basics, clothing and food mixed market ) and ended up in Kapabashi / Asakusa (kitchen items shopping street). Actually, the kids called it quits on this street and went back to the hotel but a few adults added to their kitchen knives sets. Had a tepanyaki dinner (a table by table BBQ) and then to the ROX Department store. An overdue success story was achieved here with Sian getting some great looking shoes and that brought her up to speed with the other girls. She still has to sort a yukata but I am confident we can do this in the morning.

See you Monday morning. I will try and zap off an email from Narita airport but even if I do this it will be 10 / 11 pm Sunday night before you get it. Maybe you'll see the group back before reading our last message! Check the wiki for a few more pictures. Gary

Sorry Julie ! - I know the day was an early start but, asleep at 9 30 am ????

An overcast and mild day - lots of spring in our step heading into DL!

5pm and one of the classic DL images! Air NZ flew over a little after this which was a nice touch.

One of the reasons why the parade is worth waiting for!

Into the scrum in Harajuku!

Days 12 & 13
- Well, time is now flying by! Lets start with yesterday, Wednesday, day 12. Our last school day in Hara-Mura. The kids did their normal buddy class thing and as the day wore on the Japanese kids became more and more relaxed and some real friendships became evident. Breanne is the proud owner of a Japanese boys school jacket and has not had it off for 24 hrs. All of the kids can certainly point to new friends and say to themselves, this means something. The final performance, the full set of songs and speeches happened after lunch and the last haka of the trip rounded things off really well. Jack, Ishaan and Jacob have really grown into their leadership roles. Miss Kimi came into the classroom at the end of the day to thank the kids for this strong performance and by the time she finished, many students were crying because Georgie herself was crying and farewelling Hara Mura after her 5 years there.

The last night in Hara was celebrated in various ways and most of the kids worried about how to pack their bags. The Japanese hosts have been generous and everyone seems to have extra gifts and bits and pieces to bring back to NZ.

7 45am on day 13 and we all met at the yakuba office (town office) and there would have been 100+ people there to say goodbye. This was very hard for the kids and some of the adults and there was genuine cry time for a lot of of the group. It was a miserable misty and drizzly morning and this continued all day really. We set off for Tokyo and the Mt Fuji plans were canned and instead we did the Edo Museum in Tokyo (showing the last 300 years of people and life in Tokyo) and then onto Akehabara - electronic city. Luke and Connor forked out the last of their yen and bought the latest iPods. other bought bits and pieces. Kathleen and Nicole very nice yukata for example. Dinner was a Korean bbq and this one had a chocolate machine which took over for the kids. In bed by 9pm, although I have just wandered around the hotel at 11pm and a few are still chatting. Door knocking sorted that for a few minutes. Disneyland tomorrow. 6% chance of rain - hopefully that will prove to be true. Warmish though, 23 degrees celsius. Keep and eye on the Air NZ website for plane arrival time on Monday. No one is talking about it but I am sure some are starting to count the time down, Everyone is tired but the buzz of Disney and Tokyo will keep us going. Bye , Gary.

http://www.ifids.airnewzealand.com/transform?transform=FISA&cursite=www.airnz.co.nz&&range=a&airportcode=AKLI

Japanese students engrossed in the PIS performance!

Nibble food - soy beans - salted!

A happy girl after a visit to the chocolate machine!

 Yesterday was spent in Iida,

Hi All,

Day 11 
about and hour away from Hara (if the speed limit was 100km, but as its only 80km it took a bit longer!) We went to Asahigaoka Junior Highschool. We spent the morning with an English class, helping them with English and sharing some NZ culture with them.

We also visited a beautiful craft museum called Mizuhiki-its a papercraft and we were lucky enough to have a lesson. Lots of shopping was done! Our last stop of the day was at a puppet museum. The puppets were amazing.

Here are the kids top 5 picks for the entire trip so far:

Jack- Fuji Q,
homestayingKathleen- Fuji Q, school, homestay, Todaiji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, shopping

Kaitlyn- seeing Misaki again and meeting her family, Mt Misen-seeing the snake, shopping, Fuji Q, the temples/castles/shrines

Caragh- Homestay, Miyajima, Shopping, Golden Temple, Matsumoto

Matthew- Miyajima, Mt Misen, Shopping, homestay, language

Ishaan-Homestay, Fuji Q, Mt Misen, Miyajima, Youth hostel/shopping

, making new friends, running down Mt Misen, FOOD!!!
withhost family (getting Nikes!)

Grady- My family, the culture, airport train, buildings, school

Keely- shopping, Golden Temple, Miyajima Shrine, meeting host family, game centre

Shannon- homestay/school, my birthday, Todajai/ Kiyomizudera Temple, Shopping, Peace Park, Glass bead making

Jonny- Peace Park, Nara, Miyajima, Haramura, Glass museum

Breanne- Fuji Q, making friends, seeing the animals,
paperfolding, trying new food-octopus, yum!!!

Connor- homestay-visiting Shou again, Fuji !, culture, Mt Misen, shopping

Jacob- eating okonomiyaki (food), meeting Hajime again/homestay, Fuji Q, youth hostel stay, visiting all the temples

Claudia- homestay, Hiroshima, school, temples, Fuji Q

Izzy- Tori gates, deer, homestay, shopping, Comfort Hotel

Luke- Fuji Q, homestay, shopping, shrines,
airplane

Nicole- Shopping, Tori gates, Comfort Hotel, homestay, making Japanese friends.

Sian-homestay, Hiroshima, school, Miyajima, Kyoto

Diane-homestay, spending time with fellow Kiwis, sightseeing, shopping with HoneyMama-an experience not to be missed, eating okonomiyaki made by Raewyn.

Raewyn-homestay, taking part in Ombashira festival, making okonomiyaki, visiting all the temples and shrines

Tomorrow will be hard, everyone has made lots of new friends and it won't be easy to farewell them. I can say that I know I will be in tears. We have all been treated very well by our host families and the community of Haramura. The other hard part is having to pack. I know that I am taking home more gifts than I brought and I am certain that several kids are in the same position. The kids are all very happy and buzzing every morning about what they have done the night before. Raewyn #PS check out the school cleaning photos-every child had to clean, they have no excuse not to do it at home now!
 

Photos are of our kids helping a Japanese group with a claping game. following the paper string work / Mizuhiki and some of the intricate twists and folds. The finished article was nice little brooch which I am sure many mums back in NZ will receive as a gift.

Hi again everyone- Day 10 has been the elementary school day. Students joined in lessons with
Day 10 -
english as the focus and by all accounts it was a very successful day. I will put some lunchtime photos on the wiki. Connor and I had lunch with the 6 year old's. He coped with the seat and table, it was interesting for me.

I asked the kids to give you a little bit of news re their homestays.

Luke - My homestay mum is really nice. She has pretty good
english. I like playing Wii with Ryoto and his brothers and sisters.

Jonny - My homestay is really nice. They won't let me pay for anything. We went to a temple and I received some gifts.

Breanne - My homestay family are very nice, They have made me feel very welcome. I have been enjoying my stay. The family have
showed me a lot of Japanese culture.

Kathleen - My homestay mother is a really good cook. My homestay father and brother don't speak much
english but they talk to me in japanese.

Jack - I always have traditional Japanese food and it tastes so good.

Sian - My homestay family is really nice and kind. All of them. I am having a great time with them.

Connor - My homestay
are very nice and I always have a good time with them.

Keely - My homestay family are
realy nice. They try to talk to me a lot which I enjoy because they don't speak much english. The brothers are so CUTE. They like to play nintendo, Wii and Mario brothers with me. Yesterday we went to a festival (onbashira) and they gave me a kimono to wear. We also went to a castle and did some shopping. Maika and I are having fun. She looks way different. Her hair is brown and long. Her mum is a really good cook and her dad is really nice.

Izzy - Everyone is really nice. We watch heaps of TV and since I cannot understand it I play Nintendo. We eat a lot.

Mathew - My homestay is nice and caring. They provide a good variety of food. They have good
english and their teaching of Japanese is awesome.

Claudia - My homestay family is so friendly and they try to speak
in english as much as possible. They are taking me to so many places.

Jacob - My homestay is very nice
.They feed me lots of food. They have given me a lot of presents.

Ishaan - My homestay family are very nice. The mother does not let me spend any of my own money.

Caragh - My homestay is really nice and friendly. Mum talks a lot but only in Japanese. Dad speaks fluent
english but is very quiet.

Kaitlyn - My homestay is really nice to me. They won't let me buy anything. They buy it all. The food is really yummy. We have done heaps of really
col stuff and had lots of fun. It is really funny trying to work out what people are saying.

Shannon - Really nice people and food. They are really good
english speakers.

Grady - My whole family is very nice and are very kind. They have
showed me a lot of new things and Japanese culture.

Nicole did not hand her notes to me
so i will chase her tomorrow for her news.

We go to another town and Junior High School tomorrow and catch up with a teacher who came down to Pukekohe 3 years ago. Bye
everyone
.Gary

Days 8 & 9
- Hi everyone - it is actually day 10 but this is a summary of the weekend from each of the group. I will give you some day 10 stuff tonight. The buzz first thing this morning was great and the kids were really animated seeing each other and sharing all of their weekend treats and explorations. As is always the case, some seemed to do more than others and a number went to an entertainment centre close to Tokyo which made the others rather jealous. I was bombarded of course to change the schedule in the next day or so to accommodate the ones who missed out but ... bad luck! FUji-Q website

 

Dave and Simon have a day out today at Matsumoto Castle and Julie is down in Tokyo looking at a flower auction. Raewyn and Diane are up at the elementary school with the kids having an english language day with all of the little ones. I have opted to stay back at the Junior High and do a days office work. Before the kids left I asked them all to give me a few thoughts from the weekend. Here we go!

Breanne - I went on the highest roller coaster in the world and only screamed 4 times. There was also a ride like a pirate ship and it spun around. I also went to a cake and icecream factory.

Kaitlyn - I went to Fuji-Q (the entertainment centre), Matsumoto Castle, the Glass Museum and a sushi train restaurant.

Connor - I went to Fuji- Q and took my homestay mum on the biggest roller coaster. Also took a bus trip into the mountains and did some hiking.

Grady - I went to Fuji-Q (the entertainment centre), went shopping and went a sushi train restaurant.

Kathleen - I went to Art school and made chopsticks, a spoon and charms. I also went to Fuji-Q and did some shopping.

Claudia - I went to Fuji-Q and also went on Lake Suwa on the Swan boat.

Luke - Went to Fuji-Q, the Glass Art museum, Suwa shrine and Matsumoto Castle.

Ishaan - Went to Fuji-Q and a haunted castle that was so scary Luke and I out almost crying.he alke on the Swan Boat, ate chicken heart but did not like it and almost ate grasshoppers.

Shannon - Went to Suwa Shrine, went on lskr on the Swan Boat, ate chicken heart and did not like it and almost ate grasshoppers.

Keely - Went to Suwa Shrine, saw Mt Fuji and went to Matsumoto Castle.

Izzy - Went swimming, went to Matsumoto Castle and did some more shopping.

Nicole - Went to Suwa Shrine and opuled the onbashira log, went on the Swan Boat, went to the Galss Museum and made a necklace there.

Jonny - Went swimming, went to Matsumoto Castel and did some shopping.

Mathew - hiked up a big hill, went on the Swan Boat and visited Suwa Shrine.

Caragh - Went to Suwa Shrine, a Music Box Museum, a doll museum, a glass museum, Matsumoto Castle and hot springs.

Jack - Went to Fuji Q

Jacob - Went to Fuji-Q and got a present from his family, a PSP.

Sian - Enjoyed more shopping, went on abus that turned into a train and made some glass bead necklaces.

Dave - Went to Suwa Shrine, made soba nodles, got some drum lessons and did some calligraphy.

Simon - visited a small town called Naraijyku - old samurai town. Met very friendly shopkeeper husband and wife and had a lot of fun with them over coffee.

Diane and Raewyn - nothing reported.

One of the kids sidled upto
me this morning and said only 7 days till we get home. I think he was coming from the angle that time is flying by because there have been no reports about homesickness at all. Bye, Gary

Matsumoto Castle - a number of the kids visited here.


Day 9 -
I am sure there will be plenty to add tomorrow once I catch up with the kids and hear about their weekend exploits. I had dinner with Dave tonight and he entertained the group with a series of songs which the Japanese lapped up - well done Dave!. Thought I'd chuck up a series of photos which summarise the thinking behind Hara Mura and their original choice of Pukekohe. Ignoring rice of course because that is something we do not have. However, the concentration on
veges and use of the land sums it all up really. I had to do my bit with gloves and sickle and you can see the fruits of my afternoon labour beside me. Raining outside now and predicted for the next two days. Bye. Gary

Days 7 & 8

- Hi everyone

A skinny email and I am not sure whether Julie sent one last night or not. She was going to get info from each of the kids re their homestays and if not sent, it will come on Monday.

Day 8 was the first school day for a week and the kids really liked getting into their Japanese classrooms. They had calligraphy, dance, 

some went on a 1.5km run, science and a heap of other lessons. We started the morning with a welcome school assembly and each of the group did their speeches again. They are getting quite polished. After that it was classes. The day finished with cleaning the school and our darlings pitched in and did their bit. Some had an idea of what they were doing over the weekend and we will give you a group summary on Monday. I spent today (saturday) on Mt Fuji and have included three photos on the wiki page. A special day according to the sunday paper cos Fuji received its first snow dusting of the new autumn / winter.

Thanks Raewyn who got a heap of photos up on the wiki on Friday. Check your email later on Monday for an update. Gary

Here's some photos of the trip so far.

Day 6 -
Hi everyone- Well, a major rain/thunder/lightning storm most of the night and well into the day.
Considerable temperature drop as well. We all met at 9am at the Town Library to do the normal programme in Hara Mura - see trees planted in 2002, play mallet golf, ride crazy pedal cars etc but the rain blew all of that away. Instead we had photos inside, went to the bug museum and then finished up at another inside venue where everyone had a turn at pounding 3 or 4 kg of boiled rice. This was placed in a large hollowed log 

and large wooden mallets were use to pound the boiled rice into a very sticky paste - go Diane! This was then rolled onto small ball shapes and coated with various salt or seaweed coatings. Another was really hot radish which a few of our kids tried at my prompting. Kaitlyn has promised to get me back.

The afternoon was
upto each homestay family to arrange. Claudia told me she was meant to be playing tennis but the weather had trashed that idea so she was off to make candles. The kids are really chirpy and all looking and sounding refreshed and energised. The go go go nature of the first 5 days had worn many of them out, black rings under eyes etc so the one sleep in Hara has brought things back to a balance.

Meant to say in the last email that Ishaan led the haka at the town hall welcome yesterday and he did a great job with this.

We all met again at
5pm and had a run through of the performance items. 

before the performance

-sorry Claudia and Connor for chopping you in half!! and Luke lost completely from this one!!).
Village party from 6 to 8 and the kids pulled it all together and received a great ovation from the minasan (Japanese for the villagers).

- after the performance.
Jacob led the haka for the performance and was as big a star as Ishaan was the night before. The flowers are for the birthday kids although they got Luke wrong as his was in August. Connor got some flowers as well and the whole party sang Happy Birthday.

Nobu-san and some of the group. Nobu is the homestay for Diane.

School in the morning and that is another adrenaline rush because the kids are treated as rock stars visiting the school. Another haka and speeches.

The adults are all flourishing. Dave received a 100 year old fireman jacket this evening and a hat to go with it. Simon very happy in his homestay. Diane and Raewyn spent all afternoon weaving but I did not hear that anything ended up being made. Julie has a new cellphone and her number is Japan + 90 91569064. Reception where she lives is not great though so if anything comes up NZ end and you want Julie, ring me. I am with my normal homestay family and enjoying the traditional cooking. Gary

Days 4 / 5 More\

Hi again - Julie has put together a highlights so far newsletter so I will pen a gap filler and geographical trail one for you. Woke up on Tuesday in Kyoto and breakfast in the Youth Hostel before off to Nara by subway and train. Missed our rapid or direct train and had to make do with 4 connections 

and 2 hrs later we emerged from the train system bowels into Nara daylight and 30 degrees. This was a walking day and by the end of it I was agreeing with the kids that an aircon coach would have been a better idea. However, what they might not immediately appreciate is that of course by walking you see/hear/feel/taste so much more and the whole experience is about these things.

Nara is where the sika deer reigns supreme - in fact the humble deer is an honoured and protected animal in Japan. A couple of boys had fun getting one of the deer to bow to them. We went to Todai-ji which is the largest wooden building in the world and a temple to boot. Nearly all of the kids crawled through the hole which is the same size as the nostril of the very large buddha in the building. Shopping ruled for a while at the temple tourist shop and lucky charms were bought as well. Turtles everywhere in temple ponds!

We tramped on to the bento lunch place and that was an experience for all of the kids and adults. Then onto the temple with 1000 stone lanterns. Walked more and had to call a rest beside a little lake and spent 5 mins or so watching the japan police sort out 1 local mid afternoon drunk into the paddy wagon. Found some traditional Japanese shopping streets nearby and spent an hour there. Onto the train home and many fell asleep except a few worry warts who miscounted the stations and yelled out my name 4 stations short of where we were to get off, causing me to jolt awake thinking someone was being murdered!

Hot baths for all in the YH and dinner and then off to downtown Kyoto for MORE shopping therapy. Actually, most of the kids wander and look. I am sure all pressies have been gathered up into bags.

Sad to leave the YH the next morning as it is closing early next year and being turned into apartments. Three kids left shoes there, Grady, Breanne and Nicole and Grady and Nicole were lucky to get theirs back. Breanne will need to spend some money at Hara. We walked to the next temple - or should I say, most walked with birthday girl Shannon, Diane, Julie and Raewyn catching a cab. The walk was a half hour and went through a delightful part of Kyoto with scenery and buildings 

A stunner of a back garden as seen through a fence on our walk) - a first for me and I am glad we did it. The bus went to the Youth Hostel and collected nearly all the gear and met us at the temple. On to Hara - 4.5 hrs later. The Hara Mura council is very generous and sent a superb bus to pick us up and shouted lunch as well. Georgie Kimi was on the bus and the kids were
pleased to see her again.

Photo coming into Hara- rice harvesting!

The kids were a mix of nerves and bravery and the turn out at Hara was great with many of the community there to meet us. All the speeches went smoothly and the hours of practice certainly paid off. Around 6pm the kids disappeared with homestay families. No tears or nervousness by this time and everyone was in a happy mood. Gary

Days 4/5 -
Hi everyone (sent on day 6). Well we are now day 5 today and while on the bus Miss Kimi and Julie asked everyone to tell us what has been the highlight of the trip so far. The responses as follows: 

**Matthew's** highlight has been the
Korean BBQ meal and the soft icecreams- of which he has a few! **Jacob** enjoyed the bento box lunch (it is a container which has three
stacking levels, rice on the top, with more food underneath - meat on skewer, some pickles, a rissole etc then on the bottom level there
was some special small whole fish and a potato cake and some chicken and some mandarin) He is also very impressed with the vending
machines. **Kathleen** is enjoying the shopping and thought the dead baby graves at the temple today were really sad. Today is **Shannon's**
birthday and the girls of the group surprised her with a gift of a Japanese parasol. She is having a wonderful birthday and got
to ride in the taxi to the temple as a treat. She has some awesome presents for her little sister Ryley. **Grady** loves the tuna mayonaise
rice balls and can open them now without demolishing them. The highlight for **Keeley** has been the Golden Temple and shopping for fans.
**Claudia** has liked all the different temples but her favourite so far has been the Golden Temple. Although it was really sad, **Caragh's**
highlight is still the peace museum. **Breanne** has liked everything especially seeing the monkeys, snakes, deer and eating the mango
icecream. **Luke's** favourite experience has been running down Mt Misen and the Korean BBQ. For **Connor** seeing the culture, the way the
Japanese live and their traditional houses has been the best thing so far. **Kaitlyn** has been amazed at the scale of the temples some are
really huge,she also loves all the Japanese souvenirs. **Sian** has enjoyed practicing her Japanese by meeting new people and all the temple
visits. What **Nicole** has liked most are the Tori Gates at Miyajima and seeing the Japanese women in their beautiful traditional kimonos.
**Ishaan** loves everything in Japan but especially the deer at Miyajima temple.For **Jack** it is definitely the food, he loves the rice balls
which he thinks is ironic as they are the shape of a triangle.**Izzy** used a Japanese squat toilet and thought it was great! **Jonny** really
liked the first meal we had in Hiroshima, it is a local dish known as Okonomiyaki. A pancake with noodles, meat, shrimps topped with an
egg and BBQ sauce.For the adults **Simon** enjoyed the walk through the trees at the Kiyamizu temple today. **Dianne** is enjoying the company of
the group and **Raewyn** loved the squeakyfloor castle. (the friction of the nails against the timber makes the floor squeak so that any
intruders in the castle are heard).**Julie** is enjoying seeing everything through the children's eyes as they react to the new experiences
**Dave** thought the Golden Temple was breathtakingly beautiful and also enjoyed letting Gary win at cards.**Gary's** highlight has been getting
a little extra sleep from time to time and being snapped by the kids with their ever present cameras as well as thrashing Dave at euchre!

Julie


Day 3

- Good morning Pukekohe
Day 3 was spent on JRail going from Hiroshima to Kyoto. 

Outside our Hiroshima hotel and waiting for the bus - Lots of kids [and adults] were stiff and sore this morning after our big walk experience yesterday and climb down Mt Misen. A few people have blisters but medic Dave is coping. We did a little shopping on our last night in Hiroshima but not as much as some of the group wanted. No problem as there will be further opportunities. The trip to Kyoto was uneventful and a bus was waiting for us to whisk us to a Korean BBQ establishment for lunch. The kids had a bit of a laugh about, hey we are in japan and so far we have had an Italian buffet and a Korean BBQ. What next? The afternoon was spent on part of the cultural reason for being here with visits to the Golden temple, Hijo Castle and finishing with the Heian Shrine. Culture continues Tuesday with subway and trains to Nara. Everyone seems better adjusted to the heat. It was a struggle the first two days and many kids are saying it  is great to be warm and wondering what is it like back in Pukekohe.Everyone is sleeping ok. Food has pretty much been international so far but tempura at the youth hostel last evening threw a few as we had shrimp, crab stick, pumpkin, eggplant, onion. The Youth Hostel shower system / communal bath seems to have been handled ok - maybe better by the boys as lots of swim suits appeared for some of the girls. Julie and Dianne got the first trip washing completed but I heard some moans about unnamed clothes and there is a pile of stuff on the floor that needs sorting this morning. This is the first trip where most kids seem to have a real interest in computers and many have Facebook accounts or are keen to find a computer and send messages elsewhere. Interesting how things change over time. We are having trouble getting photos into the system and it will probably not be until Wednesday or Thursday at least before I get a chance to tackle the problem. My laptop does not get wireless in the Youth Hostel and I have to use a PC which is stone age computing for me. Ok it is 6 30am and time to start waking people. Breakfast at 7 30 and 8 30 we are off to the train station. Gary




Day 2

- Big day today with the trip to Miyijima Island. Gary got caught sound asleep on the boat on the way back by the children. He awoke to see a sea of cameras flashing!

Jack and Ishaan did an impromptu haka performance on the boat, much to the excitement of the locals. In fact they made a best friend of the boat owner, who reciprocated with a few sumo wrestling moves. Kathleen had a lucky and unlucky day. She left her camera on the walking track (which I found and she was fined 100 yen) only later to find a really cool top which someone had dropped on the road, and then found 500 yen out shopping tonight. Johnny and Luke have become Japanese warriors after purchasing Samuri swords. Caitlin and Isabelle have bought some neat presents for their family. I think Izzy may be the top shopper to date! Jacob bought himself a really cool watch. Claudia was disappointed that she couldn’t find any shoes in her size of the ones that she liked. We’ll look again in Tokyo. However she did get to see a bride and groom in traditional clothes being pulled by a rickshaw man.

Mrs Beckham said Shannon is a pleasure to have in her group, and together with Sian they were invited into a photo booth to have their photos taken with some Japanese girls. Grady has been enjoying the food but is suffering the affects of Tic Tac withdrawal. The children were disappointed not to see a monkey up Mt Misen, until Nicole screamed out “It's a bloody monkey” as one ran out of the bushes at her. It was screamed so loudly, people came from the top of the mountain to see. Yasu was his normal superb self with a day of organisation to admire.

At the restaurant tonight Connor caused quite a stir with a large group of Japanese girls. To say he caused a near riot is not an overstatement. The adults have never seen anything like it, we are wondering if he looks like Justin Beiber? He has been named the chick magnet of the group, followed closely by Matthew. Keeley is a great shopper, she is now the proud owner of some Japanese shorts. Diane gave us a bit of a fright tonight, when we meet out on the road after leaving the restaurant, there was no sign of her. We hunted high and low and eventually after phone calls to NZ and then Japan found her about 20 minutes later at another underground station.

Breanne is petrified by snakes, unfortunately one slithered across our path in front of her, it didn’t help that Dave picked it up with a stick and threw it back towards the kids, not once but about three times. Dave is now the official Crocodile Dundee of the trip. Breanne overcame her fear of heights though and enjoyed the cable car ride.

It was Julie’s birthday today and I was very spoilt to get a cake at the restaurant tonight and the children sang Happy Birthday. I got a pair of beautiful chopsticks with my name engraved on them, plus a neat Hiroshima T-shirt and a souvenoir from the shrine today. There were no candles allowed on the 10th floor where the restaurant was so I got an electronic card birthday card which you blow out the electronic lights – it could only happen in Japan. Dave went walkabout last night and must have met a huge amount of people as wherever we went today people were calling out to him. He ended up jamming with some guitarists under a nearby bridge, before hooking up with a group of Aussies. Simon bought himself a new watch out shopping tonight and is really enjoying the food. At the shrine today there are tame deer that wander freely among the people. Raewyn had a very itchy trigger finger and we are glad she didn’t have her bow and arrows as the deer are considered to hold the spirits of the dead and are revered.

Happy day 3 tomorrow - Julie

PS - emails for the next two days may be restricted cos the youth hostel has a clunky system. Gary will look for a coffee place with free web access instead. Photo tonight, the torii gate at Miyajima via Gary's cell phone. Off to Kyoto in the morning. 

Day 1

- Hi Jane and via yourself, everyone else.

Lets start with waving goodbye at the airport. It was a lengthy wait to get on the plane and everyone was pleased we finally did. It must have been a rough drive back to Puke judging by the wind blasts at the airport that is for sure. Once on the plane, they told us a piece of roofing iron had hit the plane and necessary checks were being made. Re-assuring I must say! The next thing was 44 people were late due to connections from Wellington being late. Eventually we lifted off at 11 40pm.

11 hours later, Kansai was visible out the window. It seemed like a long 11 hrs and lucky ones would have slept for 3 or 4 hours. The kids started ooohing and aaahhing once we got off the plane and Japanese efficiency hit. Yasu was waiting and we rushed off to get a train connection. Unfortunately, Nicole left her camera in the luggage trolley so her face was long as was Julie's as she had worked out buying a new camera in Japan was needed. By the time we were on the second train, the bullet train, Yasu had spoken to the airport police and lo and behold the camera had been handed in. It will catch up with us in a day or so, However, getting off that train and Jack announced his wallet was continuing on without him. Y1000 in the wallet and we have not been as lucky tracking that one down.

Our Hiroshima hotel is part of the world wide Comfort chain. It was hot as by the time we arrived there, almost 35degrees. Everyone was into shorts and off we went to the peace park, The kids took heaps of photos. Raewyn has chucked up a group one on the trip wiki - goto http://pukehara.wikispaces.com/Pukekohe+to+Hara+2010

Bookmark that page as she will add more tomorrow. We finished off the day (NZ 10pm) with dinner and the Japan wide famous omelette, okonomoyaki. Most kids enjoyed it. Google if you want to see one.

The kids are into the routine of chunking the day with breakfast / lunch / dinner and heaps in between. Fines have been levied on Nicole for the lost camera, Brianne for a left behind hat, Ishaan for not keeping up time wise and a few others as well. Keely got Y100 for a great answer to some question or other - as did Kathleen - hers was, what is the name of our hotel. Enough, its now 11pm and 24 hours later it is time for a sleep. We should have more photos on the net tomorrow evening.

Bye and love to you all from your darlings -Gary - A-Bomb dome below

Pukekohe to Haramura 2010We are here!!!!! It has been a very,very long day as well as very hot and sticky. We were late leaving Auckland due to a piece of roofing iron flying off in the storm and hitting the plane! We are so glad they told us that-NOT!

We left Kansai airport at 9am and were met by Yasu, who lead us to the train. We had a 50min train trip before catching the bullet train to Hiroshima. We had a brief rest and then hit the Peace Park. The day was just sooooo hot (32 degrees) so we had lots of water and rest stops.

Nicole and Ishaan were chosen to hang the paper cranes as they had made the most.

We are having a quick rest and long awaited shower before heading out to dinner. Everyone will be sleeping very well tonight.

More updates to come.........

This year Pukekohe is sending 18 students, 3 staff and 3 parents to Haramura in September. We will be in Haramura from the 22nd September until the 30th.

We have already started our fundraising and we are well on the way to getting the amount we need.

This term we have begun our Japanese lessons and performance items.

We have begun making paper cranes to hang at the Children's Memorial in Hiroshima. 1000 is an awful lot to make and some of us can make them better than others. Fingers crossed we get them made in time!

On the 14th July, we spent a whole day at school practicing our items, learning about Japan and eating some Japanese food. A big thanks to Ikue Sensei and Mr Walley for helping us.

At the beginning of July we held a trivia night as a fundraiser. It was a great night and helped us to raise a lot of money. Thanks to all the sponsors for the evening and to all the parents for helping.